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56th International Art Exhibition China Pavilion (2015)

May 9th 2015—Nov 22th 2015

The future of the people, the future of the world

The 56th Venice biennale opened on May 9, 2015 and ran until November 22, 2015. The China pavilion, curated by the Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation, echoes the biennale's general theme, “All the World’s Futures," by inviting a group of highly individual artists from outside the mainstream of Chinese contemporary art to present their ongoing efforts to stimulate dialogue and social vitality.

Three-dimensional and true Chinese folk

China's perspective in the international arena is sometimes not the norm: whether in the sense of world politics and economics, or when it comes to problems and challenges the country faces in domestic social and environmental governance. The world CARES about China's future, so it is eager to know the real China. Is it possible to look at the smooth water beyond the turbulence, the daily life, work, and the ongoing thoughts of politics, economics, art, discourse, power, business and so on? Perhaps it is possible to get at the Chinese people's enduring vitality, as well as to discover this society's creative content which goes beyond the norm. 

In 2015, the theme of the China pavilion was “Other Future”. The curatorial work discussed the following questions: how to break the boundaries of art, how to respond to current events and future challenges? How is the independence of the artist present and how does interdisciplinary creation proceed? Where does the vitality and original language of an art work come from? The common direction of these issues is "folk" and "future".

"Folk" is not a general term in the sociological sense: every individual existence of civil society is "folk", unique and unclassifiable. "Folk" also represents a more open, inclusive and challenging set of phenomena in China today: the drive for self-publishing, the appearance of new creative spaces, the need for creativity that goes beyond the mainstream. The "future" is not a revolutionary utopia, but more representative of the coexistence and echo of the old world and the new world, as well as the infinite possibilities accumulated and created by different social levels. 

"Folk future" is not only an observation, but also a question mark and an ongoing process. The real majority transcend time, space and cultural boundaries, and their artistic vision and social thinking are related to the national dream, which is also the future promoted by the global community.

Outstanding and independent Chinese pavilion artists

The China pavilion invited 3 artists and 2 art platforms to present work: Liu Jiakun, Lu Yang, Tan Dun, Wen Hui (Life Dance Studio) and Wu Wenguang (Caochangdi Workstation).

Among them are architects who do not shy away from tackling complex social realities and who have shown innovation in dealing with practical problems, and new media artists whose works are causing controversy and concern. Interested in the preservation of folk intangible cultural heritage, some of the artists are world-class musicians who love diversity and crossing boundaries. Some of them have broken with the old definition of a body of artistic work, preferring instead to document and participate in the social and political reform of rural

Tan Dun and Lu Yang's works draw inspiration from nushu culture, buddhist art, the Classic of Mountains and Seas, statues and other humanistic classics. At the same time, they make full use of new forms of contemporary music, non-inheritance and new media. With infinite imagination and sometimes shocking artistic language, their works hold the potential to speak to the viewer, even across cultural divides. Liu Jiakun’s outdoor art installation, and Caochangdi Workstation/Life Dance Studio’s "Chinese Villagers Documentary Project” and the "Folk Memory Project" showcase interactive works of modern dance and ordinary ways of life, courageously presenting the tension between ways to cope with the present and involvement in society. These works extend the boundaries and definition of art, and create traditional folk modes for the future.

Venice Biennale, World and China Pavilion

As Mr. Paulo Barata, President of the Venice biennale, has said, “The biennale of international art has crossed the artistic, cultural, political, technological and economic spheres, and exists at the intersection of socio-political change and radical historical rupture. Here, through the eyes of artists, the whole world sees that human beings have the same desire for art and beauty, and sees the development of art in the world, as well as the current situation of human development in different countries and regions, arousing resonance. The theme of this year's biennial is "All the World’s Futures". It is hoped that by judging and discussing the changes and development of today's world, we can consider how to accurately capture, understand and examine our concerns about The Times.